The bright and dark sides of social media use during COVID-19 lockdown: Contrasting social media effects through social liability vs. social support

Hichang Cho*, Pengxiang Li, Annabel Ngien, Marion Grace Tan, Anfan Chen, Elmie Nekmat

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

There exist ongoing discussions regarding whether, when, or why heightened reliance on social media becomes benefits or drawbacks, especially in times of crisis. Using the concepts of social liability, social support, and cognitive appraisal theory, this study examines distinct theoretical pathways through which the relational use of social media has contrasting impacts on cognitive appraisals of and emotional responses to the COVID-19 lockdown. We collected online survey data from 494 social media users in the U.S. during the COVID-19 lockdown. The results based on structural equation modeling (SEM) showed double-edged social media effects. When social media use results in perceived social support, it has a favorable impact on coping appraisals of the COVID-19 lockdown. This, in turn, is associated with lower levels of negative affective responses, such as anger, anxiety, and loneliness. In contrast, when social media use results in increased social liability (i.e., obligation to provide support to others), it negatively impacts cognitive appraisals and affective responses. The study makes significant contributions by unpacking two distinct theoretical mechanisms underlying social media effects: particularly social liability which has been underexplored but was found to be an essential concept to explain the dualistic impact of social media.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107795
Number of pages11
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Volume146
Early online date24 Apr 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychology(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Social media
  • Social liability
  • Social support
  • Cognitive appraisals
  • Emotions
  • COVID-19

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